Egypt acquits 22 involved in Red Sea islands protests
The controversial agreement between Cairo and Riyadh sparked widespread anger in Egypt, leading to several protests. (Twitter)
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A Cairo court acquitted on Wednesday 22 people who were arrested during protests staged in objection to the maritime demarcation agreement signed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on what became known as "Friday of the Land".
Security forces arrested the protesters on April 15 at the Press Syndicate. They were charged with protesting without a license, disturbing public peace and inciting protest.
The maritime border demarcation agreement was signed at a time when Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz was on his first official visit to Cairo in April. It has stirred controversy since then with critics accusing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of "selling Egypt" to Saudi Arabia in return for aid.
The accord stipulates that two strategic islands, Tiran and Sanafir, fall within Saudi territorial waters.
Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in rare protests on April 15 and April 25, amid a police campaign of mass arrests of activists opposed to the islands’ transfer.
Tens were fined or handed down prison sentences that ranged from two to five years in a string of court cases related to the protests.
Most of those arrested for protesting the agreement were later acquitted or had their sentences revoked by court.
Several lawyers had filed lawsuits in an attempt to nullify the agreement.
On Tuesday, Egypt's Administrative Court annulled the agreement and affirmed that the two Red Sea islands lie within Egyptian borders in what was perceived as a historic ruling.
Later that day, the State Lawsuit Authority appealed against the administrative court decision which voided the agreement.
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